January 7, 2010
Top 5 things Steam MUST fix
I am a pretty big supporter of steam and the things that it enables users to do but there are some serious flaws that I have run into recently.
1. I want to be able to play my games offline… without having to use the steam client…easily. I don’t want to have to log in, find some obscure setting somewhere in the settings. Log back off. What I would like to see is the client to always be offline unless you tell it to be online instead of the other way around. Granted I would have it logged in most the of time anyway but if I don’t have to why should I be forced to. So I can play my games? Why do I need to be online to play a single player game? There is no need for authentication of the legitimacy of my game as I have purchased it through them. I can’t think of one reason it needs to be online. If I want to update the game, play online or just chat away with my friends… I’ll log in. I know a couple people who have moved to an area that has no Internet and now they cannot access their games. If you have paid for your merchandise you should be able to use it on or offline.
2. Give the option to purchase a physical copy of your game along with all the games collectible content. One of the biggest reasons I sometimes to choose to buy a game from the store instead of steam, even if they are the same price is that I get the collectible artwork. For example, Dragon Age: Origins is $64.99 at Best Buy and it comes with collectible CDS, inserts, sound track, a map, instruction booklet, some extra in game items, downloadable side quest, and a pretty cool looking metal case. I didn’t feel like I wasted any money on it because of the content. What I can’t understand is why you would charge the same price on steam or even half that price on steam when you don’t get any of the physical content. I have no objection to paying an extra 5 dollars plus shipping to get the physical copy WITH my purchase of the digital copy. This also gives me a backup copy in case of the unfortunate event that steam ever closes; It also provides me with the ability to install a game far quicker. Downloading a game that is 14 gigs can take a good number of hours even on the beefiest of connections. With a physical copy I can install within a half hour depending on the size of the game. This is especially handy if you change or rebuild your computer on a constant basis.
3. Give me the option to activate ALL games that are available on steam. I can’t tell you how annoying it is I only activate valve games on steam. How hard is it to allow me to activate a non valve game? The licensing is still the same regardless and I even get CD keys with some of the games I buy. This goes back to the option to issue #2, I want to be able to have a physical and digital copy of the item. I’m money based thinker and believe me money is always on my mind. When I spend money I want to protect my investments, whether it be stocks, bonds, a lawnmower, pc game or last weeks issue of playboy. If I can’t download it I want to be able to install it from a disc. If my disc gets destroyed I want to be able to download it and buy a replacement copy. Understand where I am going with this?
4. Be more mod friendly. Recently I have downloaded several older games. The ones I’ve had the most issues with and that come to mind are Titan Quest and Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II. Both games contain modified .exe files which prevent a good number of mods from working correctly. In older games that are still around and being played it’s not uncommon to notice the dating graphics on them, JKII and Deus Ex are no exceptions. The first thing I did when I installed Deus Ex was look for a graphics and texture mod. I found one instantly called HDTP. Looked really cool, downloaded it, installed it, launched it. FAIL!!!!. The error “Cannot find steam” pops on my screen. I immediately face palm and start reading around on the forums. Turns out steam uses a modified Duesex.exe and for the graphics update to work you have to find and download the original .exe file. This was a challenge in itself. Basically I want a untampered copy of the game that I don’t fight with to get mods working on. Mods are one of the main reasons I prefer PC gaming and without that you take away a large part of the experience that is PC gaming.
In addition to this, for the more advanced user, I think steam needs to allow you to choose which version of the game you want to install. This was my biggest gripe with Titan Quest, the final boss in the game and the way you defeat him changes drastically from 1 version to another. This caused me a great deal of frustration in the fact that I could use a strategy that everyone else got to use who bought the game before me. This also goes back to Mods as certain mods are only compatible with certain versions of a game. This just gives the more picky and technically savvy consumer some extra toys to play with.
5. Uneven download rates … there have been times when I’m downloading at 2.0mbs and I can download a 1gb game in a matter of minutes and other times when I was downloading at 2 bytes… the problem is quite apparent. The most recent offense was when GTA4 the game is 7 gigs and when I’m downloading at 72 kb that’s just plain unacceptable. Steam has more then enough servers and bandwidth to offer a good 500kb — 600kb upload to their clients. If the server is to busy to accept to connections it should search for the closest and most efficient server to download from next. Steam appears like it is supposed to do this but I feel like something is working right behind the scenes. When I bought GTA4 I had to setup some server in russia to get it to download.
These are my five biggest gripes with steam and I would be very happy to see them address some of these concerns. What do you guys think? What issues do you see with steam? What benefits do you see with it?